There is absolutely no need to worry about the exact ingredients or quantities in this recipe. Basically any mixture of relatively mild creamy cheese with some hard cheeses, eggs and breadcrumbs will create a similar result.
These "cutlets" (for want of a better word), can be served either in the tomato sauce or without it as crispy treats. I usually leave about half of them out of the sauce and the other half in it, just to allow people the variation..
Cheese "Cutlets" in Tomato Sauce
-1 regular package (8 oz, 250 ml) of cream cheese, or thick Greek yogurt, or relatively high fat "white cheese", or even a mild soft goat cheese (or any combination of the above).
- 1 package of soft mozzarella cheese (or possibly a mild feta or something similar - soft but not too soft, and not too powerful a flavor)
- A few handfuls of shredded hard cheese (cheddar, jack, etc., whichever you like).
- 1 egg (you may want to have another on hand, just in case)
- 2/3 cups breadcrumbs (ideally Italian breadcrumbs. GF is fine), or matzo meal (making the recipe ideal for passover) (again, you may want to have some more breadcrumbs on hand just in case you need the texture corrected).
- canola or vegetable oil for frying.
- tomato sauce (like the kind you use for pasta. I make a basic sauce using a can of crushed tomatoes, some garlic powder, dried oregano, salt, pepper, red chili flakes etc.)
1. In a large bowl combine the cheeses and the egg and mash them up with a fork to make a semi-smooth mixture.
2. Add the breadcrumbs and mix, until you have a mixture that is thick and not very liquid. Depending on which cheeses you used and what quantities, you may want to play with the amount of eggs/breadcrumbs to make sure you have a good consistency (but remember that the mixture will become thicker after the next step).
3. Put the mixture in the refrigerator for a 3-4 hours or overnight.
4. Fill a plate with some more breadcrumbs/matzo meal, take small handfuls of the cheese mixture and roll them into flat patties. Coat each patty with breadcrumbs.
5. Heat an inch of oil in a pan, and fry the patties on each side until they are crisp and golden on the outside. Drain on a paper towel.
6. Serve the patties as they are, warmed up OR place them in a pot with the tomato sauce (they should be well coated). Place the pot on medium heat and bring to boil. Cover, lower to a low heat and simmer for about 20 minutes. Serve with rice, pasta or just by themselves.
Alternate preparation if you are in a hurry:
If you don't really want to wait 4 hours, there is a faster way of making these. They may not come up as pretty, but they will still be delicious:
Follow steps 1 and 2 as they are written.
When you get to step 3, instead of putting the mixture in the fridge for 4 hours, let it rest in the fridge for about 30 minutes. Skip step 4 entirely. Instead, heat up the oil, and then carefully spoon large dollops of the mixture directly into it. When the bottom of each "dollop" is somewhat more stable (this should only take seconds in the hot oil), you can pat the top with a wooden spoon to flatten each patty.